director James Whale
Considered one of Universal Studio’s cavalcade of “monsters,” The Invisible Man, based on the H.G. Wells novel, is more of a crime thriller than a horror film. The great James Whale (Frankenstein (1931) , Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Old Dark House (1932)) directed, certainly one of his classics that established Universal and the “Universal Monsters.”
It’s a lean picture, with a 71 minute runtime, one of the great qualities of many of the pre-code era films is their concision. The movie jumps off to its brisk pacing from the start, as the bandaged stranger arrives in a small town English pub, holing up and abusing his hosts. The chemical potash that has rendered him invisible has also rendered him utterly a-moral. He’s more bent on wreaking havoc and being a master criminal than returning to his loving, concerned ex-girlfriend.
Whale peppers the film with his mordant humor, from the classic reactions and screaming of the inimitable Una O’Connor, to the playful torments to which he subjects the police and general populace. He’s a mean-spirited, not very likable anti-hero, but we are meant to enjoy his rebellious pranks and shenanigans.
It’s a classic, fun, and vibrant film.